Groups demand release of old, sickly political prisoners

Groups demand release of old, sickly political prisoners

LUCENA CITY, Quezon, Philippines — The leftist farmers group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and the human rights group Karapatan demanded on Sunday the release of all elderly and sick political prisoners as government goodwill gesture for the resumption of peace talks with communist rebels.

“The Duterte government should at least show some goodwill efforts regarding its proposal to resume the formal peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP),” Danilo Ramos, KMP chair, said in a statement.

Executive clemency

Ramos said the government must seriously consider granting pardon and executive clemency to hundreds of political prisoners who were still languishing in jails and prisons nationwide.

“Many of the political prisoners have been incarcerated for years and even decades. Many including the elderly, sickly and couples can be released based on humanitarian grounds,” Ramos said.

“The sincerity in pursuing the talks is inevitably linked to the release of all political prisoners in the country as an issue of justice,” said Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general.

Karapatan said there were 629 political prisoners currently jailed nationwide. At least 382 of them were arrested during the current administration.

Of the total number of political prisoners, at least 50 are elderly, 93 are women, 113 are sickly, 11 are NDFP peace consultants and five were minors at the time of their arrest. — With a report from Jhesset O. Enano